The Battle is the Lord’s

Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s [1 Samuel 17:47a]

Fasting makes the Word of God a little bit clearer. Those usual phrases you have read many times, jump out at you, to get your attention.

Too many times I have endeavoured to deal with different situations the best way I know how. After all, I am a reasonably intelligent person, I should be able to figure out a way of overcoming something, of removing an obstacle.

Then these words come at me. The battle is the Lord’s.

These are words I know. These are words I have spoken. But in this moment these words came alive.

The context here may be familiar to many of us…David is speaking to a giant, a literal giant, and one who is shouting him down, belittling him, telling him how he will be defeated.

Somehow David stands tall. Unintimidated. No fear. And it’s because he understands how things work for those who have God on their side. This battle was not about a natural fight, this was not about swords and spears, this was about God bringing a win as David remained faithful.

My ‘giant’ may be different but it can still shout the same intimidating things. Yet sword and spear, those man-made solutions are not the answer, working out the fix in some clever way through my own creativity is not the answer. David demonstrates that with some giants in our lives, only God will do.

The battle is the Lord’s.

I have seen a victory this week while fasting and praying which could only have happened because the battle is the Lord’s. A human response would probably have created frustration, a well-worked plan for all parties to keep to. Instead the battle was the Lord’s and our own-made solutions got ripped up.

Maybe you need to remind yourself today, while trying to work something out, that the Lord doesn’t save by sword or spear, not through our own made up solutions, but instead ‘THE BATTLE BELONGS TO THE LORD’.

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Pour Out Your Heart

And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!’ And Hannah answered and said, ‘No my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither win nor intoxicating drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now [1 Samuel 1:12-16]

I read this at the beginning of 10 days of prayer and fasting and it immediately spoke to me about how to approach those 10 days.

I am not a woman so I cannot comprehend the emotion she was feeling as a result of being unable to have a child. However, I can understand barrenness. I can understand what it is like to have a deep desire for something significant to happen and for it to not be, while around me others are quite obviously living a fruitful life.

Reading these verses encouraged me in a few ways…

Hannah would not allow barrenness to define her. Instead she kept believing and trusting in God. It’s too easy to think how things are is how things will always be. With God, things always have the potential for change.

Hannah poured out her heart to God. Sometimes it is not about the words we could say,  but the cry of our heart before God. He hears the deepest of sighs, the longings we have which are caught in the depths of our souls.

Hannah was misunderstood. In pouring out her heart in such a way, comment was made. Doesn’t that happen? The emotion of all which is going on, can cause others to wonder why you are behaving the way you are. Why fast for 10 days? Why pray with such purpose for 10 days?

Hannah shared from a place of complaint and grief. We might know we are positioned in a place of victory, yet life may not always feel victorious. Be encouraged that it is alright to allow God to hear you, hear your complaint, to understand your grief.

Hannah left it all with God. Allow your heart to be heard by God. Allow those longings which come from a place of complaint and grief to make their way in to God’s presence and then leave them there.

Hannah sees something new birthed in her live. Within the year, a son is born. A gift from God, birthed from pouring out her heart to her God. And she immediately give what has been birthed by the power of God, back to God.

So here’s what I did at the start of my 10 day fasting journey…

I poured out my heart to God. I spoke some words, but more importantly from the quietness of my heart, I allowed my complaints and my griefs to shout out to my God. After all, I want to hear from Him, I want to be moved by Him, I want to see some change and some direction. I want some fresh revelation for myself, my family, for my future and for my Church too.

I am choosing to leave them in His hands. Just as Hannah said ‘I have spoken until now’, so have I. Now I am trusting God to birth something new, to bring something new to life, something which will grow to honour Him.

 

 

Build Church: Pray

It’s so simple we may actually forget to. Yet with all the very best of programmes, plans, and ideas, without spending time with God we create and build solely on our own strength and imagination. And that is never enough.

Three scriptures come to mind as a reminder of the power and importance of building through prayer, building with the Lord, seeking Him and leaning on His understanding.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. [Psalm 127:1]

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God [Philippians 4:6]

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. [Proverbs 3:5-6]

Prayer acknowledges that earthly wisdom is sufficient only for limited purposes.

Prayer says I am not enough but God is more than enough.

Prayer causes me to lift my eyes heavenward, to look higher and to look to God.

Prayer is to be fulfilled in combination with all diligence on my part towards what I am looking to build.

Prayer is bringing heaven to earth into the building of my own home and into the building of Gods house.

Prayer is me making sure I hear Gods voice on how things should be done.

Prayer is the antidote to my worries.

Prayer is a demonstration of my trust in God and His ability to do what I cannot.

Prayer leads me as I enjoy conversation with my heavenly Father. 

Prayer works.

Let’s be a people who don’t just build what we would like to fashion but instead be the people who get God’s insight into how things should be. As we play our part in building church, let’s pray. Let’s invite God in. Let’s ask for His kingdom to come on earth, as it is in heaven. From my own experience, I know it will make all the difference.

What’s your experience with prayer?

 

Lead Well: Good Company

We know this is true ~ who you hang around with shapes you. The right people in your life with the right words at the right time can make the right kind of difference.

Good company is different to hanging out your ‘friends’ after work for a drink. These are the friendships which go beneath the surface. More than a like on social media, these are the ones who show up when you really need them.

Good company is people who encourage, support, pray for and speak life over you. It is the ones who come alongside through the toughness, not necessarily to try and fix you but to simply sit in silence with you. It is the ones who don’t mock your grand ideas. Or let you get away with not chasing after those same ideas. Good company is saying more than ‘do what you feel’ or nothing at all. It is bringing words of comfort and a good old fashioned shove when you need it too.

This kind of good company can take a lifetime to flourish. This kind of good company is not broken easily. Fox-hole friendships. Grown through experience and season.

Good company may only be one or two and to be honest, when the good company is like this, then one or two are more than enough. Find them. Appreciate them.

Who is your good company?

With no good company the alternative is bad. This kind of company can say the same kind of words but with different motives, which leads to very different kinds of outcomes.  This kind of company isn’t thinking of you, it is thinking about itself.

Bad company corrupts, leads astray, doesn’t pray. It is well-meaning, yet not life-giving. It is surface friendship. Not encouraging, supportive or God-focused.

A well-meaning ‘whatever’, may be meant as support to your grand ideas but it isn’t really.  This kind of company are unreliable, not inconvenienced and unprepared to sit alongside. This is not a fox-hole friend, more like a ‘pity-party’ companion. It is those who love to talk about themselves, so they are encouraged.

Bad company may only be one or two, and to be honest, when the bad company is like this, then one or two are more than enough. Beware.

Who are your bad company?

People are important. This is not an instruction to get rid of all your friends. This is more a reminder about the value of great friends and knowing the difference. We can have lots of good people in our world and that’s alright. This doesn’t mean every word they share has to be acted upon. Find the better friends for the life-changing conversations. Those who share the same values for living as you, the same faith as you and the same God at the centre of all that they do.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Build Church: Together as Family

To talk about family can be dangerous. This is mine, with our parents. You may have a great family experience, others less so. Yet when God looks at His Church, He is building a family by using the family to build. People who didn’t necessarily choose to be together but through a love for Jesus have been brought together, to build something which would honour our heavenly Father.

The challenge is being willing to let go of what may be good, for the better God has laid up for us. Something I have talked about before with the idea of unlearning.

Family time is good and important. Having fun together, enjoying each others company, making memories and developing a family environment of care and safety are essential parts of building a great family.

Don’t let the pursuit of your family time, which is good, cause you to neglect or get in the way of family time with God’s family.

We have definitely reaped from all the benefits and rewards which are within this family. We would not have succeeded in seeing our girls grow into who they are without the help of God’s family. Extra parents, uncles & aunts, grandparents, people who prayed for us, encouraged us, supported us. In doing so they unknowingly helped us to flourish and brought out the best in us. Credit where credit is due, without this family, our family would not be who and where it is today.

The power of God’s family should never underestimated. When we develop a stronger sense of togetherness we create an environment where God’s power can reside.

In Nehemiah we see how the people demonstrated a certain set of family values which when pooled together brought about a great accomplishment. The wall was rebuilt, but in reality much more than that happened.

They demonstrated togetherness in what may be considered very simple ways but which proved to be very powerful ways. In having a mind to work, a willingness to pray to their God, to set a watch over the land day and night, to be positioned as families as need required, to fight for one another, to see the job completed, to labour until it was done and in trusting in the leader too. [Nehemiah 4].

This attitude towards building is a great picture for how we should build today. We are not building a wall, we are being used by God to build His church, to make His name known across our communities.

God is building a home. He’s using us all – irrespective of how we got here – in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day – a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home [Ephesian 2:19b-22 The Message]

When we build together everything gets set in its proper place. What they built for Nehemiah was more than a wall, they built something which would facilitate all that they needed to prosper and flourish as individuals, as families, as a community, and as a city on a hill.

The gates were placed, doors hung, each contributing to the well-being and growth of each person, each family, the wider community and creating the framework by which God would move. The same is true for us today. As we build together, everything in its proper place, we create an environment where God can move, can command His blessing and then we will see change, in ourselves, in our families, in the community and in His church. [Nehemiah 3]

Salvation. Evangelism. Rejection of Old Ways. Fruitfulness (prosperity). Freedom from Rubbish of life. Healing. Refreshing. Power and ability to fight for God. The Coming of the Lord. Judgement.

Who doesn’t want to see these in their own lives and in our nation? Then we must be ready to display the same family values those who built the wall displayed. To take our responsibility for this generation. To build together. To do the work. Whatever it takes. To pray together. To watch out together for each other. To position ourselves in the family. To stand. To fight for one another not with one another. To see the job completed. Not just for ourselves but for the generations who will follow.

Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel clear understanding simple trust healing the sick miraculous acts proclamation distinguishing between spirits tongues interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when. You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts – limbs, organs, cells – but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain – his Spirit – where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves – labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free – are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive. I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. [1 Corinthians 12:7-14 The Message]

Can we do this then. Or is it just a vain imagination. Are we so set in our ways we cannot unlearn our view of family?  Let us trust that as we build His family and His home, He loves us more than we love our own families and will not see us short-changed or to miss out on the full life which He promised is ours, in Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

Prayer & Fasting

12-days-of-prayer-and-fastingToday we began 12 days of prayer and fasting as a Xcel Church. Corporately we are believing for some breakthroughs, especially as we head towards our Influence Conference in less than 3 weeks.

Personally too, many of us are taking this step of sacrifice and being intentional in our prayer and times with God to see change. This is definitely true for me and my family. But mostly prayer is all about relationship, to spend time with God, knowing God personally, more intimately and passionately.

In Ephesians 1:17 Paul prays that we ‘would know God better’ and that’s a great place to start, with such a simple yet very powerful prayer. After all, everything else flows from the health of our relationship with God. Plus it stops us from just coming to God with a ‘wishlist’ of stuff we think we need. Instead we just spend time with Him because it’s a good thing to do.

What are you praying and fasting for? What are you believing in faith for?

Be Encouraged Today

favour-001

Haven’t posted for quite a while. Lots going on. More about the book stuff later.

Today I was encouraged by the simple power of the Word of God. It’s ability to speak straight to the heart. To remind us of the greatness of God and how much He is for us and not against us.

Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! [Psalm 90:17]

Favour. An act of kindness beyond what is due or usual. Yet it’s more than just the favour of a friend, this is the favour of God. The grace, mercy, kindness, goodness and unfailing love of God kind of favour.

Establish. To set up on a firm or permanent basis. Speaks of strength and being unmovable.

I took time to pray this verse over my day, my family, my future, my church, and my friends. Why wouldn’t you. To experience the favour of God over all aspects of life and to know that the work of my hands would be established.

What verse has spoken to you today?

7 Benefits for Calling on God

Amidst the frustrations of life, the friends who may let us down, the noise of the world and the general ‘gubbins’ of life it is important to remember we can call on the Lord. My daughter has just written today about prayer – you can read it here

Psalm 55 reminds us to act in a certain way when others things which are happening may cause us to want to behave in another way.

But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and He hears my voice [Psalm 55:16-17 ESV]

Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved [Psalm 55:22 ESV]

Whatever is happening right now, be it good, bad or ugly, take time to call on God, raise your voice to Him, cast your burdens on Him and invite Him in to every part of your life.

He hears our voice, our complaint, our concerns, the cry of our hearts

He redeems our soul and keeps us safe

He sustains us

He does not allow us to be moved or defeated by the words or actions of others

He overcomes the noise of others

He willingly attends to us and answers us

He is better than the best of friends

What beautiful promises, straight from the Word of God. How do these encourage you?